Gender balance for elite med research grants

From next year the National Health and Medical Research Council will award an equal number of leadership level grants for its main Investigator programme, to men and women (including non-binary researchers)

“This, more than anything else, will ensure that the excellent contributions of Australia’s female researchers are enabled and recognised, as well as ensuring female leaders are active and visible role models for the next generation” the NHMRC states.

The announcement addresses a long-standing gender imbalance and follows years of calls for action. As the NHMRC acknowledged in August, “the gender disparities in funding outcomes in the Investigator Grant scheme reflect the systemic disadvantage faced by women in health and medical research, made visible by the attrition of female applicants at more senior levels of the scheme,” (CMM August 1).

The council started the process in February (CMM February 4) and went on to consult widely on options over the winter.

There was strong support for the announcement on social media yesterday, however the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes pointed out, “more work still needs to be done to address the issue of differences in career trajectories, including periods of part-time work.”

This has been a long-time coming, with council chair Anne Kelso acknowledging something needed to be done in  2019 (CMM September 6).